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Custody can be a tough issue for any family to navigate. That’s why it’s helpful and in many cases mandatory for disputes to go through child custody mediation.
Kelli Byers Hooper is a family law attorney with KBH Law, Inc. in the Atlanta metro area. In this edition of Quick Questions, Hooper explains that in most of Georgia’s counties, mediation is a requirement.
To learn more, contact the attorney directly by calling 888-558-1353 or by submitting a contact form on this page.
Mediation is extremely useful in what may be otherwise be emotionally charged situations, like custody battles. Having a third-party present to take unnecessary emotion out of the equation and compassionately listen to both sides’ needs and concerns can cut through even the most heated conflict, resulting in an acceptable outcome for both sides. Some benefits of mediation include autonomy in negotiating your own agreement and the privacy in which these proceedings take place.
Mediation generally takes place in a closed environment with only the invested parties and mediator himself/herself present. If children are present, they are usually asked to wait outside. After the mediator introduces themself and makes a brief statement regarding their own neutrality and what they will need from the invested parties, it’s time to get down to business.
The mediator may set a time frame in which they’d like the issue to be resolved and will lay out some simple guidelines for both parties to follow as the mediation moves forward. Each party will then explain their grievance and desired solution, after which the mediator will usually ask a series of open-ended questions to get to the root of the matter. Once the mediator feels confident they have a firm understanding of the situation, they will attempt to outline a solution in which both parties have acquiesced to some degree, and if found to be unacceptable, discussions of further compromise may commence with the arbitration of the mediator.
This means that in every custody case the parties must engage a mediator, whether they desire to handle the case on their own or not. This mediation requirement can extend to other cases beyond custody as well. Despite common thinking, a mediator’s job is not to provide legal counsel or judge who is right or wrong in each situation. A mediator’s role is to help both parties and the attorney, if applicable, reach an acceptable mediation in an efficient time and manner with the best interest of the children at heart.
Qualifications for mediators can vary from state to state.
In some places, people are required to meet different standards to be considered qualified to mediate. A little over half of the 50 states require all their mediators to meet a statewide standard. Of that half, most states require their mediators to undergo higher training in order to mediate in cases of family disputes. In about half of the remaining states, mediators are still required to meet a general standard of training and competency. In some states, mediators are even required to hold a degree in law themselves.
To learn more, contact Kelli Hooper directly by calling 888-558-1353 or by submitting a contact form on this page.
I'm Leslie Rhode with a Quick Question from AskTheLawyers.com™: Do all custody disputes need to go through mediation? We ask attorney Kelli Hooper.
Most counties here in Georgia have a mediation requirement, regardless of whether it’s a custody case or not. Most contested cases involve going to mediation. We have 159 counties here in Georgia. So, depending on which county you live in, when you go to mediation may vary, but most counties require mediation before you go before a judge for a final trial.
Disclaimer: This video is for informational purposes only. In some states, this video may be deemed Attorney Advertising. The choice of lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.
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